I love the 2002 movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where a Greek woman named Toula Portokalos falls in love with a non-Greek man. Gus, Toula’s proud father, struggles to give away his daughter to someone from another culture. The romantic comedy also emphasizes Gus’ love for the Greek language. He has a Greek word and meaning for everything!
In one of the first scenes, Gus is driving young Toula and some friends to school. He embarrasses his daughter by offering this challenge: “Give me a word, any word, and I show you how the root of that word is Greek. Okay? How about arachnophobia? Arachne that come from the Greek word for spider, and phobia…mean fear. So, fear of spider! There you go!”
Dunamis refers to strength, power, or ability. We’re familiar with it as the English root for words such as dynamite, dynamo, and dynamic. We’re also familiar with many of the Bible passages that use dunamis. Here are a few you might recognize:
- Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).
- Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me (2 Corinthians 12:9).
- By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life (2 Peter 1:3).
As youth workers, our great privilege (and mandate!) is to invite teenagers to “taste and see” Jesus’ power. Gus would define dunamis with relaxed conviction, and we can do the same.
Regularly posing these two essential questions can bring about “powerful” transformation in our ministries:
How do I see Jesus’ power at work in [young person’s] life?
How am I affirming Jesus’ power in [young person’s] life?
By recognizing and affirming Jesus’ power at work in teenagers, we can spark in them an incredible thirst for a Jesus-centered life—focusing on others, not themselves.
When Zeke accepted a classmate’s invitation to attend our youth group, Jesus’ power was recognized and affirmed in his life. During small group, a leader noticed Zeke’s desire to seek God’s will for his future: “I see God at work in your life. What do you think he wants for you?”
Zeke’s family had been plagued by situational poverty; no one had ever graduated from high school. Zeke shared what he’d felt God nudging him to do, and then pursued it. What felt very unnatural soon became supernatural. Zeke didn’t have money for college, but God provided. Zeke didn’t have good grades when he started thinking about higher education, but God surrounded him with people who nurtured his skills.
With Jesus in his life, Zeke’s plans began taking a different shape. He went on to graduate from high school and college and is now a full-time youth director. Today Zeke impacts young people by recognizing the dunamis of Jesus in them.
God’s power is at work in your youth ministry and community. Recognize it. Affirm it. Get in the middle of it!